Huge dredging operation off Ayrshire coast 'threatens SSSI'

Plans to dredge a huge area of the seabed at Hunterston off the Ayrshire coast as part of an oil rig decommissioning yard project could have severe consequences for a nearby SSSI, say campaigners.

A total of 2.4 million cubic metres of subsea dredging has been requested by Peel Ports - a 12-fold increase on the original 150,000 to 200,000m3 which featured in its application to North Ayrshire Council in 2017.

Campaigners Friends of the Firth of Clyde claim that the application could have a drastic impact on the neighbouring Southannan Sands - a site of scientific interest (SSSI).

The new dredging plan came to light last month as a result of a freedom of information   request by the group in October last year.

Marine Scotland previously advised the developer that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required

However, according to the Scottish government, which responded to the request, that position has now come under review given the proposals for significantly increased dredging volume.

Marine Scotland have declined to accept the most recent license application from the developer, and subsequently met with Peel Ports, who have agreed to submit a further EIA screening request based on these updates.

Peel Ports, which has been approached for comment, said Hunterston is one of Scotland’s most important development sites comprising a 300 acre brownfield footprint, deepwater, and rail connections. 

It says the development is expected to support over 1,700 jobs and add over £140m in economic value to Scotland.

The SSSI at Southannan Sands comprises sections which are of “national significance” for intertidal sand flats which are popular grounds for lugworms, crab and shrimp and mussels and cockles, especially on the lower shores.

The sandflats support a variety of wintering, migratory and breeding wildfowl and waders, including species such as shelduck, eider, oystercatcher, lapwing,and redshank.

The habitat is also important for fish species when flooded at high tide.

Related ENDS Compliance Content

  • Planning Act 2008

    Planning Act 2008

    In force/
    England, Scotland, Wales
    06 Apr 2016


    27/03/2015 Amending Order (SI 2015/949) published.
    10/03/2016 Amending Order (SI 2016/306) published., 16/01/2017 Amending Regulations (SI 2017/16) published, for England and Wales only.
    02/11/2017 Amending Regulations (SI 2017/1012) published.
    10/11/2017 Commencement Order (No. 3) (
    SI 2017/1078) published, for England only., 28/11/2018 Amending Regulations (SI 2018/1232) published.

    Compliance Dates

    26/11/2008 Received Royal Assent, 26/11/2008 Provisions of Parts 1 to 9 (except Section 194(2) to (5) and paragraph 7 of Schedule 7) come into force (see Section 241), 26/11/2008 Part 11, except Sections 206, 211(7), 224 and 225 come into force (see Section 241), 26/11/2008 Part 12, except Section 238, comes into force (see Section 241), 26/01/2009 Sections 194(2) to (5), 201, 202, 203 and 225 (together with related entries in Schedule 13), and paragraph 7 of Schedule 7, come into force (see Section 241)
    01/03/2010 Certain Sections including Sections 15 to 20 and Sections 22 to 26 brought into force by The Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No.4 and Saving) Order 2010 (SI 2010/101)
    06/04/2010 Certain provisions brought into force by the Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No. 5 and Saving) Order 2010 (SI 2010/566)
    06/04/2011 Sections 14(1)(o) and 29 brought into force by the Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No. 6) Order 2011 (SI 2011/705)
    01/10/2011 Sections 14(1)(p), 30 and 153 and Schedule 6 brought into force by the Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No. 7) Order 2011 (SI 2011/2054)
    06/04/2012 Sections 192 and Schedule 8 (tree preservation orders), Section 193 (existing tree preservation orders: transitional provisions), and Section 238 and Schedule 13 (repeals relating to trees specified in the Schedule to SI 2012/601) come into force for, 28/11/2014 Section 198 (appeals relating to old mining permissions) comes into force, in relation to Wales, insofar as it is not already in force (see the Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No. 3) (Wales) Order (
    01/01/2018 Sections 14(1)(m), 14(1)(n), 27 and 28 in relation to dams, reservoirs and the transfer of water resources, enter into force for England only (see SI 2017/1078)



    Energy/climate change General policy Land and development Sustainable development Transport Waste


    OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information)

    Affected Sectors

    Cross-sector Oil Water Electricity Gas Waste and Cleaning Construction Transport Rail Transport

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